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The Five Man Army

Take 'Five.'

Rod Lott September 24th, 2012

Before he became Itay’s master of horror, Dario Argento knocked out a few screenplays, including one of Sergio Leone's legendary Western epics, Once Upon a Time in the West. Lesser-known is 1969's The Five Man Army. That's too bad, because it brings an “international all-star team” approach to the spaghetti Western, and doesn’t forget the all-aces Ennio Morricone score!


The multiculti cast is led by Peter Graves as The Dutchman. For someone who grew up on multiple viewings of Airplane!, seeing Graves as a badass outlaw is something of a trip. At the time, he was about midway through his run on TV’s Mission: Impossible, and like that long-running series, Five Man Army finds him assembling a group of experts to complete a mission. This one just trades high-tech wows for a lot of dirt and dust.

The Dutchman assembles a crack team of rebels to help steal half a million dollars in Mexican Army gold from a moving, heavily armed train. In on the plan are a level-headed buddy (James Daly, TV’s Medical Center), a cocky local who aims a mean slingshot (Nino Castelnuovo, Strip Nude for Your Killer), a brutish circus acrobat (genre staple Bud Spencer) and a silent swordsman named Samurai (Tetsurô Tanba, You Only Live Twice).

Memorably, the Dutchman uses burritos to explain his master plan to his amigos. When it’s put into practice later, Warner Archive's Army is a winning effort. Before then, the film is light on action and heavy on conversation, but at least it sets up the bickering ways among the quintet. Thus, it’s shy of being great, but its spy-esque exploits make it a good contender for converting the genre-adverse. —Rod Lott
Hey! Read This:
A Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More Blu-ray review   
Strip Nude for Your Killer Blu-ray review      

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